The COVID-19 pandemic has the spotlight of construction industry news across the county right now. Rightfully so, as it has been extremely disruptive to developers, contractors, and suppliers alike. While there is great debate on how to address the spread of the disease, all of us in the AEC industry are trying to determine what we should be paying attention to. For those involved in a large construction project presently, no matter what role, it is suggested to think about a few things:
Safety Measures – By now, most of us are familiar with the term “Social Distancing” and the importance of handwashing, but there is more than that. OSHA has devoted a separate webpage for the standards from 29 CFR that apply to this outbreak and reminded us that this is a recordable event. Do not count on anyone to provide these measurements for you or your associates; take responsibility for them yourself just like you would your PPE. View the OSHA COVID-19 webpage here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html
Essential versus Non-Essential – As State and Local Governments make decisions on restricting certain businesses and even issuing “Stay-at-Home” or “Shelter-in-Place” orders, pay attention to where construction falls in the fine print of each order. There are states with “Stay-at-Home” orders that allow construction to continue as an “Essential” business and others that do not and consider it “Non-Essential.” The AGC is actively campaigning for clarity on these issues in each jurisdiction. You can stay up-to-date with their efforts at https://www.agc.org/coronavirus-covid-19
Documentation – The impacts of COVID-19 are hard to quantify at this point. Make sure you are having open conversations about the effects the project is experiencing – At the developer to contractor, contractor to subcontractor, and subcontractor to supplier levels. Develop ways of monitoring and documenting what has happened so it can better be understood when the pandemic is under control. The Douglas Company has been monitoring and reporting manpower daily to our clients, for example.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best – In uncertain times like these, it is essential to have procedures in place for every possibility. The Douglas Company has already developed job-specific plans for our work across the country to support the recommended safety measures and continue working, but also plans to be prepared in the event of a sudden government-ordered shutdown. These have already been necessary in the State of Michigan, where we were given only 13 hours to close up and stop our work.
Stay Informed – News continues to develop daily across the country for our industry. Industry news site Construction Dive has developed a very useful webpage to roundup news applicable to the construction industry on a daily basis, check it out here: https://www.constructiondive.com/news/covid-19-construction-dives-daily-news-and-resource-tracker/574130/
We stand with the rest of the world hoping this terrible virus is controlled quickly, and the impacts are minimized. Until then, by paying attention to these suggestions, we are able to press ahead for our clients and continue to work on many of our sites. The impacts of this pandemic on our industry may not be completely clear for some time. Still, one thing we know for sure and take very seriously at The Douglas Company is that we have a critical role in finding ways to help contribute to our client’s success by keeping work moving even in uncertain times like these.
Disclaimer: At the date of publication, the above information was correct. COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and the information above may have changed since publication. The Douglas Company should not be considered a source for medical advice or expertise.
Bruce Douglas, PMP, PMI-SP, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Project Manager
The Douglas Company
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